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Man gets 12 months on child porn charges

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By Tom Wilmoth

    Jamey Otis Baker Jr. didn’t want to go to jail. He’d spent a little time there prior to receiving bond after his arrest in December 2012. He didn’t want to go back.
    But Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance felt Baker’s crimes justified jail time. Bedford County Circuit Court Judge James Updike agreed, sentencing Baker to 12 months of active jail time of a 10-year sentence for the possession of child pornography.
    Baker, 49, was convicted on five felony counts of possessing child pornography. According to Nance, the Bedford County man had 178 hard-core images along with 23 videos. Nance said Baker also had an additional 160 images of child pornography featuring full nudity.
    Licensed Professional Counselor Steve Strosnider testified at Friday’s sentencing hearing that Baker had been attending sessions with him to help deal with “triggers” that caused him to look at pornography in the first place. Strosnider said pornography became the central focus of his life, after he lost his job as a software engineer. “He was powerless to control it,” he said.
    Strosnider said the stress of losing his job served as a catastrophic event in Baker's life. He compared the computer Internet addiction to a drug addiction. “It became more of an obsession,” Strosnider testified about Baker.
    He said Baker hadn’t shown any tendencies toward pedophilia. “The focus at that point (was dealing with) the triggers (of the addiction).”
    Strosnider testified that Baker has been unable to find work because of the charges. He had several offers that were pulled when the charges became known by prospective employers.
    Strosnider said Baker had been looking at all types of pornography, not just child pornography. “Obviously it escalated,” he said of Baker’s collection of child pornography discovered on his computers. “It evolved into that.”
    Baker and his wife have twins, one which has a disability. Baker testified he has been watching over the children, since he can’t find work, while his wife works. According to testimony Friday, his wife lost her job in Roanoke shortly after a co-worker discovered the charges against her husband. She has since found work in Richmond, working up to 70 hours a week to support the family.
    “I am very sorry,” Baker testified Friday. “It was absolutely stupid.”
    Baker said, through counseling, he has learned that he was addicted to pornography. “I’ve learned what control it had on my life,” he said.
    He recounted during the hearing a time, in 1996, when he had too much to drink and drove home. After learning what he did, and the danger he put himself and others in, Baker said he was determined never to do that again. He said he will apply that same willpower to never looking at pornography again.
    “Are you going to look at pornography when you get home tonight?” Baker’s attorney, Tom Rowe, asked.
    “Absolutely not,” Baker answered.
    Nance pointed out, on cross examination, that Baker was the one who turned the computer on and downloaded the images of exploited children, some who were raped. Nance said those children will never be able to escape that exploitation, which Baker supported by downloading those images.
    Baker’s wife also testified, stating she didn’t want her husband to go to prison. She said the children need him at home.
    Nance stated that Baker, by downloading the images, was guilty of “perpetuating a cycle of pure evil,” something that he did “time and time again.”
    Rowe said that his client has admitted his crime from the start and was not excusing it. He argued that if Baker had only been convicted of one count of possession of child pornography, the sentencing guidelines would call for probation instead of a period of incarceration. “He’s not out manufacturing (child pornography),” Rowe stated. “He has the willpower to face this addiction of Internet pornography.”
    Rowe asked for a 10-year suspended sentence. “You’re not going to see him again in this court or any other court,” Rowe stated of Baker.
    Nance countered by stating that with the number of images found in Baker’s possession, there could have been many more charges filed against him. He said the images discovered on Baker’s computer represented the sexual exploitation of dozens of different children.
    Prior to sentencing, Baker again expressed remorse. “I would never hurt anyone,” he said. “I would like to do something to help other people. This is not me; this is not the person I am.”
    The sentencing guidelines called for Baker to be sentenced from a minimum of two years, three months to up to seven years, four months. While Baker had made “a good impression before the court,” Judge Updike still said his crimes warranted jail time.
    With that in mind, Judge Updike sentenced Baker to 10 years in prison, with all but the 12 months suspended. Baker will have to serve three years of supervised probation, undergo any prescribed sex offender treatment and register as a sex offender. Baker is also not to use a computer for anything but work and is not to have unsupervised contact with any child not related to him under the age of 18.
    “This is such a heinous crime. It does deserve incarceration,” Nance stated after the hearing.